Is your job application process eliminating top talent_ _ Connector Team Recruiting.png

Your job application process is an important focus point to review in a tight labor market.  This is because at the present time we find ourselves in a war for talent across the consumer goods industry.  The home furnishings sector is not immune from the talent shortage, in fact, I’ve had conversations with a number of owner’s, hiring authorities and industry consultants recently and the common thread heard is that entry level positions and commission sales roles that used to be easy to fill are now becoming very difficult.  

I recently published a blog article a few months back that touched on and outlined ways to review and make sure you use your company Career page and take a look at whether it’s mobile and user friendly.  Here is a link to that blog post: Improve your career web page to gain access to more candidates

Here is some additional data from our home office at the MRINetwork that provides some results and real time data from recruiters and companies for 2019.

Take a look around, almost everywhere you go it seems everyone is on a mobile device. These mechanisms provide us with 24/7 access and the ability to instantly connect to work, and almost every aspect of our personal lives. It should be no surprise then that candidates expect this same convenience when applying for a job. However, this is one task that many employers haven’t adapted for ease on a mobile apparatus, according to the results of the 2019 MRINetwork Recruitment Trends Study.

In fact, 76 percent of candidates say they expect the ability to submit applications and receive feedback via a mobile device. However, just 30 percent of employers offer a mobile-friendly application process. While that's up from 10 percent who did so in 2015, according to separate analysis from the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), employers aren't transitioning to these on-the-go options as quickly as today’s workers expect.

Josh Ostrega, chief operating officer and co-founder of the software company WorkJam, told SHRM that it's in employers' best interest to invest in the digital era.

"These companies may be missing out on the most qualified prospects," Ostrega explained. "Highly skilled workers don't stay unemployed for long. Enforcing a sluggish application process encourages strong candidates to look elsewhere." Here are some strategies that you as an employer may want to consider implementing to optimize candidates' experience:

Partner with an industry-specialized recruiting firm

By working in concert with an industry-specialized recruiting firm, you can give your candidates more on-the-go options for applying to jobs, while also gaining access to a larger pool of potential candidates. “The odds of you finding a perfect candidate who is also looking for you is miniscule,” said Chris Hesson, manager of technology training for MRINetwork. “Increase your odds by working with a recruiter who is the expert in your arena and knows the players. A savvy, niched, focused recruiting firm can also help ensure top talent are applying for your jobs via platforms that are on the cutting edge of technology,” This can be especially critical if your company isn’t able to invest in a mobile-friendly process.”

Draw on other tech capabilities

If your organization is able to make some technology investments, consider offering quick-apply options on job boards and social networking sites like LinkedIn. Here, candidates can simply provide their profile link for consideration. If you’re directing applicants to apply through a career site, make sure downloaded resumes can be parsed so that candidates don’t have to make manual entries.

Harnessing the power of mobile technology is a win-win, both for candidates and your company's ability to attract top talent on an ongoing basis. Ensure your organization isn’t losing out on the best in the industry because of a clunky, outdated process.

Blog Post by: Bill O’Malley, Chief Recruiting Officer at Connector Team Recruiting.  Connector Team is recognized by leaders and leading consultants as the premier search firm in the Furniture | Appliance and Sleep vertical space. Connector Team is an affiliate office of MRINETWORK recently ranked in 2019 as a Top Recruitment Firm by Forbes Magazine.

5 Ways to Hire Smarter _ Connector Team Recruiting.jpg

Over the past couple of months, I continue to look for creative ways to help our clients find more talent in a very tight employment market.  Many of the calls I receive are for entry level wholesale, retail or business development roles. I wish I could tell you it’s going to get better sometime soon however, statistics suggest otherwise.

I believe many Owners, Executives and hiring authorities across the highly specialized Furniture and Big-Ticket industry channels appear to have some bias towards hiring candidates without specific and or direct experience within our industry. This is not without merit, since we all would all love to check off every box to meet all the requirements for a job description.

I think in today’s hiring climate that needs to be revisited.  More emphasis on identifying core competencies and traits and history in top performers can lead us to a larger pool of talent.  We need to attract people into the Furniture industry. I fell into our industry by chance when I was a working college student many years ago. I fell in love with the industry and I never looked back.  

There are some companies that understand that Sales and Customer Engagement are key to the front line and back office roles and they have figured out the formula.  They are looking outside our industry to find applicable transferable skills and the result is they are expanding their pool of candidates to choose from and finding some hidden gem talent from other retail, wholesale and service channels.

In a competitive labor market, we suggest you look for transferable skills and applicable expertise and then outline them with your team so you can clearly identify these traits in the interview process and apply them to each position.  

According to a study by FORTUNE the Unfilled jobs cost the U.S. economy $160 billion a year. Instead of “trying to take the risk out of hiring by looking only at people with a specific set of skills and experience,” he says, “we’re seeing more employers — including big ones like Procter & Gamble and Accenture, who have operated this way for a long time — first assessing candidates’ attitudes and behaviors to find the right ‘fit’ and then training them for the available jobs.”

Those companies look carefully at the traits of their current, proven top performers, then come up with a profile of who is most likely to succeed, and hire people who match the profile, even if their skills and experience aren’t ideal. Says D’Arcy, “It takes a willingness to make a long-term investment in creating your own internal talent pool.”

Sheer frustration with the lack of perfect candidates will drive more employers to go this route, he adds. “Most organizations today still use the same rigid approach to hire that just doesn’t work anymore, and inventing what comes next is hard,” he says. “But I think we’re seeing the beginning of a trend.”

So, you can see where we are going with this trend and recommendation.  

Here is a how-to guide on assessing candidates with transferable skills, but no industry experience:

Employers by and large concur: When it comes to hiring, an ideal candidate is one with experience. However, there's something else business owners also agree upon - experience isn't everything, especially when job candidates bring other desirable qualities to the table.

According to findings from the 2018 MRINetwork Performance Management Study, close to 80 percent of employer respondents either somewhat agree or strongly agreed with the statement that they're more likely to extend job offers to people with transferable skills, but who lack industry experience due to increased difficulty finding qualified talent.

Interestingly, however, candidates aren't always aware of employers' flexibility. Just 50 percent of respondents somewhat or strongly agreed that companies seriously consider applicants with tangible skills, but who lack industry experience.

This is a key finding for employers to recognize, one that they may consider factoring into how they advertise job openings, so candidates are fully aware.

That being said, candidates don't always mention transferable skills on resumes or in interviews. Thus, businesses must endeavor to identify them during the hiring process.

Here are a few tips that can help you assess inexperienced job candidates whose marketable skills could make them the ideal people to fill open positions:


Enthusiastic employees are engaged employees. When workers are excited about the job functions they serve, they're more likely to perform well because they're eager to learn, improve and achieve results. Try to spot evidence of potential workers' passion for previous work, as well as for the job to which they're applying. This may be found in their resumes, such as if they were ever "Employee of the Month," but also in the interview itself.


The interview is only a small moment in time that provides a snapshot of what candidates are like and can offer. It can be difficult to identify all their transferable skills inside of 30 to 60 minutes. You may want to pre-screen them, so you have an idea of what they're like before they arrive. Social media can provide a sneak peek into their backstory. In a recent poll conducted by CareerBuilder, nearly 60 percent of employers who acknowledged using social networking for researching job candidates did so to better identify their qualifications. Fifty percent said they also used Twitter and Facebook to get a sense of their level of professionalism.


Hiring solely based on experience can be tricky because it's not necessarily indicative of how well applicants will perform in the short-term, or the long-term. They may lack the temperament or desire to take their talents to new heights.

The ideal is a combination of both, noted Johansson Consulting CEO Anna Johansson. Writing in the Huffington Post, Johansson stated that potential is particularly worthwhile, because it's more inclusive and broadens the pool of prospective hires. It also makes the hiring process in general less taxing.

"It's a lot easier to find and hire a candidate who has potential than to track down someone who has years of experience and is available for hiring," Johansson wrote. "A business is also much less likely to overrate potential than experience...which has become a problem over the years."

How do you spot it? Experts say potential is manifested through indications of enthusiasm, such as curiosity, inquisitiveness, determination, insight and emotional intelligence. Asking probing questions can draw these qualities out.

No candidate is perfect, nor is any hiring method. However, being more open-minded and evaluating applicants beyond credentials and specific industry experience, can help employers’ home in on the right person whose transferable skills can have a huge impact within the company.


Look at your existing top performers in each functional area.  No successful top performer has the perfect ideal background; however, I think you may find some things in existing employee’s backgrounds that may present a guidepost or light bulb moment.  Was it running a family business at an early age, working through college and balancing the book work with the real work?

Go back to the pre-screening bullet and you can discover much more about people today by just looking at social media and their background beyond the resume that may be in front of you.  


Here is a great interviewing question to ask as an interview starter. Asking this basic top grading question - “take me back to your High School days and bring me forward with your career history”.  

What better way to make sure that the candidate does the majority of talking, this gives you an opportunity to sit back and see how they communicate.

A top candidate can remember details and can move forward and do it within 5-10 minutes.  During this time, you’ll discover a literal treasure trove of information. This typically will include information  about the candidate’s work history, and it could uncover those traits you feel align with other successful people within your organization.

This is a great way to test cognitive ability without a personality test by just having them answer this question. If someone cannot present a road map and present a coherent career history, how do they know where they should go in their employment quest.

So, there you have it, some ideas, tips and other tools to apply to capture more talent that is out there within your reach.  

I believe we never can stop learning and growing. If you have a favorite type of hiring tip you would like to share, please send me a note.

Blog Post by: Bill O’Malley, Chief Recruiting Officer at Connector Team Recruiting.  Connector Team is recognized by leaders and leading consultants as the premier search firm in the Furniture | Appliance and Sleep vertical space. Connector Team is an affiliate office of MRINETWORK recently ranked in 2019 as a Top Recruitment Firm by Forbes Magazine.



Candidate Tip – Improve your personal brand during times of dramatic change | Connector Team Recruiting.jpg

When there is major change at an organization, it’s never an easy transition for employees like you who remain with the company. After all, you’ve given many months and even years to the business. There’s a good chance you’ve spent more time with your manager and fellow employees than with some of your closest friends during that period. 

Nearly every executive with a career of significant length will most likely experience a dramatic change or shift within their company. These include; a leadership change, a massive restructuring or a change of control according to Bill O’Malley, Executive Recruiter.  However, when there an organizational change – you’ll want to do your best to ensure you’re in the optimal position for future advancement at the organization. If you’re an all-star employee, chances are you’ll be asked to stay on with the company. That can mean a big opportunity for you to achieve growth and career advancement. 

Therefore, it’s important that you’re prepared to gain the skills you need, to be as successful as possible, during this potentially tumultuous time. According to a Forbes article by John Feldmann, this process, called upskilling, can be a crucial part of a changing company. “By upskilling current employees, companies can fill open positions while retaining their current workforce by creating learning opportunities,” he notes.  

Here are three strategies you can follow when your company goes through big changes and you want to make the most of the situation:

 1. Speak with the company’s leadership to understand the skills they need most

As soon as you find out that your company is going through change, speak with your manager as well as with any other company leaders you trust with your career. By doing so, you’ll show that you’re eager to learn more about the situation and are willing to do whatever it takes to help the company move forward.

That’s something the Harvard Business Review recommends in an article about difficult reorganizations: “Once you’ve absorbed the planned changes, you need to think about what they mean for your day-to-day responsibilities and your potential job satisfaction.”

 After requesting to speak with leadership, take some time to think about the value you can bring to your organization. Reflect on the successes you’ve had, so that you can highlight them during these meetings. By doing your homework ahead of time, you’ll show your manager and others that you have an impressive ability to plan and a commitment to succeeding when times are tough.

During these meetings, it’s also important to ask what they’ll be looking for most from the team after the change has been enacted. Their answers can give you valuable information on how you can train and upskill yourself in the coming months.

 2. Make use of online platforms that can help you learn

 After a reorganization, responsibilities and roles are often condensed, so it’s all hands-on deck. You may find that you’re now responsible for new day-to-day tasks that you hadn’t previously performed. Having spoken with company leadership, you will be one step ahead, with invaluable knowledge to help you succeed in the new environment.

The next step is to learn as much as possible and gain the skills necessary for advancement. Helpful websites include LinkedIn Learning and Udemy. Both offer thousands of online tutorials, taught by world-renowned experts, that can truly help you thrive during this pivotal moment in your career and your company’s journey.

Consider taking courses in topics such as: 

-       Leadership and management

-       Data science

-       Business software and tools

-       Communication and public speaking

 3. Consider enrolling in a certificate or degree program

Beyond learning about potential growth opportunities and taking one-off online courses, you can turn upcoming organizational change into a chance to go back to school or earn a certificate to boost your skill set. 

While online learning platforms are great for gaining knowledge about specific subjects, getting a master’s degree or a certificate from an accredited institution can make you truly invaluable. Many reputable universities now offer online master’s programs, making it that much easier for working professionals to continue their education.  

There are many instances where your company can help you achieve this goal. For example, some organizations have tuition reimbursement or assistance programs that can help you earn a degree at a reduced rate. To begin this process, simply read through your employee benefits resource information or contact the human resources department. 

Additionally, you should initiate a conversation with your manager once you start considering enrolling in an educational program. This will do a couple important things: first, it’ll express your commitment to upward mobility at your company. It will also help you to determine workplace flexibility opportunities, that potentially can include adjustments to your work schedule to make a degree program work for you (and your team). 

Ultimately, transformation at your company doesn’t have to be frightening, or damaging to your career. Instead, use this period as a time for self-growth and to gain new skills. You’ll then be able to pivot to bigger roles and more responsibilities in the wake of major change.